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Turkey hunting Merriams in CO
I'm looking into starting merriam hunting. Ive always hunted easterns but now that I live in CO I could really use some advice on where to look for them and their behavior or the best hunting method for them.
Good luck on your journey, I’m starting my first turkey hunting experience this spring in PA!! I’m always fishing that time of year but want to change it up a bit this year
They like river bottoms and strutting on flat ridges. Best way to find them without any spot tips is hiking until you find sign, driving looking for prints/sign on road, or driving around at sunset and sunrise listening for gobbles from their roost. Usually they roost in pretty tall trees on steep ridges here. If you roost them at night then come back in the dark in the morning you can try to ambush or call them in after they fly down.
If you get what sounds like a hen responding to your call, continue calling it may actually be a tom. Learned that a couple of years ago.
Go south as in South Central like Pueblo area. The river bottom birds are primarily Rio's with some hybridization occasionally. Not sure where exactly you live, I'm in metro Denver, there's birds in the mountains near by, but not a lot of them. You can get two preference points a year, we accumulate points and hunt on the plains when we can draw and hunt the mountains when we can't. I haven't bothered going South yet, and haven't gotten a bird either although I almost did once, plucked the string and missed. Decker's area has a few birds, they are like elk, have to keep moving till you find them, really nice if you can roost them and come back on them in the morning. PM me if you want about specifics.
Welcome to Colorado! For the most part pure merriams are found in the foothills and mountains while rios and rio-crosses are found in the river bottoms generally east of I25. It's possible to get pure white feathered toms along the river bottoms but they are likely crosses. With that said I shot 2 mountain toms this year with buff tail feathers. I mostly see pure white feathered turkeys in the mtns.
The mountain birds can be tougher to locate than river bottom birds....especially on heavily hunted public land along the front range. You will likely find out that finding out about specific foothills/mtn merriam hotspots are like pulling teeth. It usually takes a lot of time and boot leather to locate areas that consistently hold birds. The turkeys in the foothills have lots of country with a fairly sparse population. The toms I've found also tend to be a lot quieter than rio's due to all the predators (bears, coyotes, bobcats, mtn lions). If they make a peep after they fly down they usually live fairly short lives!
Good luck with the merriams! They are gorgeous birds!
Good advice here on where to find them. IMO they are much easier to call in than Easterns. Good luck!
Merriams also like to travel uphill. Get above/in front of them if you can. Not sure where you're hunting, the further west you go the more "Merriamish" they'll get.
Some will come in quite and some will live up to the name thunder chicken. If hunting the hills or mountains they'll fly out of their roost down the mountain, then work their way back up.
My preference is to "run and gun" and cover ground. I'll hit a box call every 100 yds or so when prospecting.
I got my first one last spring. It was definitely a rush.
I used to hunt with a buddy in Texas and we talked about hunting Merriam's once and he told me he had done a lot of camping in the Mueller state park and saw lots of turkeys while there. That was 4 or 5 years ago so may not be the same now. I ended up going to NM and never hunted there ! This is a good video on locating mountain birds.